Monday, March 24, 2014

Shouldn't I be Settled by Now?

A tie Brian will never wear.

I have moved to new cities many times.  California is the ninth state I've lived in; San Francisco is the 21st city I've lived in.  That's counting the cities I called home as a child.  Cities I've chosen numbers 19, including short-term residencies during college.  Cut those out and I'm still at 17.  The point is, I've moved a lot.

One thing I've learned about moving so frequently is that it takes a good year to make solid friendships.  At this point I've gained two friends who will likely remain my friends even after we no longer work together (I also have a few friends ready-made from other places whom I've joined in San Francisco).  I'm feeling the urge to make friends outside of work, however, which is a much more difficult proposition.  Brian and I like to explore through walking around the city (see my Instagram posts for photos from around the city--I'm everywhereknitting there, too).  Being on the move does not allow the time to settle in, to get to know something really well.  Sure, they know my name and my drink at Starbucks, and I've made friends before

by lingering in stores, but this isn't quite the tactic I'd like to take.

Perhaps I should join some knitting groups.  I have made friends that way before, so it will probably work.  I just get shy in situations where no one knows me.  You'd think that after so many years of making new friends I'd be an expert, but I'm not.

Which brings me to knitting.  Since I don't have many friends here, and job hunting can only occupy so much of my day, I should have a lot of time for knitting.  Somehow, I don't do much of it these days, though.

I never did a summary of what I knit last year, so here's a quick summary:
39 total projects, plus one that has stretched into this year.
9 cowls
9 hats
5 baby items
2 pairs of socks
3 pairs of mitts
1 baby sweater
1 sweater back that has to be re-knit.

Not very impressive.  I did get on a run at the beginning of this year, but it has since fizzled out.  I'm working on a toddler sweater that just needs to be finished. 

This feeling of being unsettled has bled into knitting.  Some nights I dink around on my phone or computer instead of knitting.  Some nights I knit a row or two and then find something else to do.  I just can't seem to focus on knitting.

I think I need to revisit the "knit whatever I want" rule.  It's nice not having deadlines, but I miss presenting people with gifts.  Does anyone need anything?  Want anything?  I could use some inspiration.  I guess a knitting group would do that, huh?  Maybe I just need to be here for another four months before I feel settled enough to happily knit whatever, when I'm not out gallivanting with all the new friends I'll make.
A hat that has no owner.  Want it?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Things Have Changed

An update.  I moved to San Francisco in August.  I love it here, so far.  It is nice to be so close to the ocean again.  I can walk to one of the most beautiful beaches in the city, and I might see porpoises while I'm there!  I walk to work, which I love (the walk and the job).  All in all, this is a good time to be me.

There are some negatives, though.  I can't afford to fly to Michigan for the holidays.  It will be more than two years since I've seen some of my family and my oldest friend and her family.  The thought of this breaks my heart. 

Also, while I love my job, it isn't sustainable.  It's not quite at the same professional level that I feel I should be at, and the pay is too low to maintain life in the city.  Thank goodness Brian has a job that barely covers the astronomical rent (ours is low).

I guess those are the negatives.  It's winter now and the low will be 34 tonight.  We are determined to never use our radiator, and I usually have to open a window during the night.  I haven't acclimated to this weather yet, and still think it's pretty nice out (everyone else thinks it is cold out when the temperature dips below 60).  I love the fog, and because we live in the tallest building around (seven stories), we have a great view that is ethereal when the fog rolls in.

One more negative is the lack of yarn stores in San Francisco.  As far as I know, there are two in the city (another has recently closed its doors).  Two?  For 825,000 people?  I know there are amazing stores in Oakland that I haven't been able to visit, and I'm sure there are others in the Bay Area, but come on!  That said, I think Imagiknit has every yarn ever made, so it's not like we are lacking in actual yarn.

I taught a coworker how to knit, and she is a superstar already.  I had a freak out moment when we went to buy yarn, though, and couldn't do math.  So I made her buy more than she probably needs.  We all need to start a stash sometime, right?

I don't have any pictures to post because I've been lazy about taking them.  So I either don't have photographs of recent things or I have bad pictures.  Check my Ravelry page to see what I mean.

Blogging is going to be hit or miss for the next six months while I try to figure out my place in this new world.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travels and Treats

I'm finally getting around to posting a picture of my second fabulous winnings of the year.  I won a book and yarn from Amy Herzog and Bijou Basin Ranch.  The only sad part of the whole thing is that I can't wear animal fibers, so this particular winning will have to be about learning how to flatter someone else's body.  I'll have to combine what I learn with a pattern using a plant fiber yarn to knit to flatter myself.  It's true that I don't love any sweater I've made for myself except one.  I'm excited to learn how to flatter my body and finally get to wear something I make for me!




Brian and I went to Portland last weekend.  We've decided that if we don't get any other opportunities to move out of Reno soon, then we're going to take the plunge and move to Portland, jobs or not.

I have been very good about using yarn from my stash lately.  I have even made 23 more hexipuffs for my Beekeeper's Quilt.  I would keep up with it, but I don't have any more sock yarn scraps to use.  However, I allow myself to buy yarn when I visit other cities.  So, I purchased a few things in Portland.  I have the most awesome boyfriend who willingly accompanied me to four, count 'em, four yarn stores. Brian did complain a little when I made him get out of one of the comfy chairs to help me make a decision. (The photo below is the yarn in order of purchase.)

My favorite of the four we visited this time was Dublin Bay Knitting Company.  I didn't get the fun Lorna's Laces sock yarn Brian wanted (Unicorn Dreams) because I wanted to buy a locally dyed yarn instead. Dublin Bay has an in-house yarn called Solstice that was very pretty, so I got a nice semi-solid blue for Brian.

I also liked Pearl Fiber Arts because they had a great selection of Oregon yarns and local dyers.  I got a new yarn from a dyer called Thoroughly Thwacked.  The owner there was very nice, but a customer was eating something right near the doorway, and the smell ruined my experience just a bit.

The next day we happened upon some yarn stores.  We hadn't intended to visit two more but they were on the street we were exploring so of course I had to check them out.  Yarn Garden was huge (I missed one room entirely!) but I didn't see anything local.  There were a few special yarns but nothing that grabbed me.  I bought a sock yarn, Footprints, that I'd been debating from a yarn store in Traverse City last summer.  Brian liked a self-striping sample but they didn't have the colorway he liked.  Finally, we visited Happy Knits, which was a lovely store with very nice yarns, but I couldn't find anything local there, either.  I prefer to buy local yarns when I'm visiting a place.  It helps the store and the dyer both.  I also dislike when the store's labels are so big they cover some information on the yarn. 


I've now visited at least six of the yarn stores in Portland.  I won't pick an ultimate favorite until we move there.  Then I'm sure it will be whichever one is close enough to visit on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The End of Sheep

I recently visited my sister in Denver, and we went to Fancy Tiger Crafts (and to Sweet Action, which is right across the street--yum!), where I bought some wool yarn and a discussion ensued.  Sarah is working on becoming a vegan.  A serious vegan, head to toe.  She is also one of the biggest fans of my knitting.  Not wanting to rock the boat, she hadn't expressed to me that she doesn't want to wear wool anymore until I flat out asked.  I will respect her wishes from here on out, but I have to admit that I'm struggling with some of them.  Sarah does not want to use wool because of two factors: animal treatment and animal death.

To the first point, we discussed how big industry wool is just as bad as factory farming for meat.  While I agree with her on this, I have not taken steps to eliminate that kind of wool from my use (I am a vegetarian, but I still wear leather shoes and use products with down filling). A vegan friend in Chicago and I once talked about a similar topic after she had purchased a down coat.  The truth for me is that I care more about how something was made (factory conditions, quality fabrics from plant and animal sources--not petroleum products) than how the animals are raised, when it comes to wool, leather, or down.When I buy wool yarn and yarn from other animal fibers, I like to buy local, from companies that are sourcing their wool from small operations and spun in family mills, or from companies that trace the origin of their yarns to the sheep that grew the wool, but I do not exclusively buy those yarns. I appreciate that more and more yarn companies and dyers are sourcing their wool in sustainable ways.

So I asked Sarah whether she would use yarn that was sheared, spun, dyed, and purchased locally, since those yarns are more likely to be gotten from sheep that were cared for and treated well.  The sticking point for Sarah, and this speaks to her second factor, is that she has no way to know how those animals die.  Are they killed for meat when they are no longer producing quality wool? Are they auctioned to inhumane businesses? If they live out their happy life, are they allowed to die naturally, euthanized, or slaughtered.

I have to admit that I never thought about the end of life of a sheep raised for wool. And it rankled me. I argued with my sister over things that we both believe in because I am bothered that I don't know the answer and I continue to purchase wool without knowing. All these "sustainable" yarn companies, and companies that put pictures of their sheep on the labels don't disclose how their animals die.  For one, it's too depressing to think about, and for two, it isn't important to most people.  For three, the way farm animals' lives are ended is fraught with political (and ethical) frustrations and problems.

I worry that Sarah is becoming extremist in her views, and I would like her to look a little closer at the human side of the story.  But I know that animals mean more to her than her own life, and I have to respect her choices, even when I think she hasn't seen all sides of the issue.  However, I need to learn more about both the treatment of sheep (and goats, and all the camelids) for my own interests. I argued with her quite vehemently about all of this, partly because my own beliefs were challenged and my ignorance exposed.  I'm glad Sarah is passionate and willing to debate with me, because I learned of holes in my own knowledge and can now explore this further.  I hope she wasn't too frustrated with me and gained some perspective, too.

We also discussed round ups and whether or not they are cruel (I tried using the vicuna as an example of an animal that is sheared in the wild), but we are not going to agree on that point.

To end, here's a picture of a work nearly finished, worked in linen and started before my recent debate.
Tytonidae Cowl, unfinished.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adrift

I was catching up on some other blogs yesterday and many of them had apologies for not posting in a while.  I guess I'm not the only one who let February get away from her!

There has been a lot of soul searching happening around here.  I did have a revelation or two, and I took some time to express gratitude to people who have made my life a little easier.  I also got a part-time job to help with the bills.  This is completely a throw-away job (no offense to the people who work there for better reasons than mine) that may not cover all my expenses (only about half) but it gets me out of the house and interacting with people.  It's just what I needed.  Now I need something a little more meaningful.  Smiling while handing over the receipt for clothes that cost more than my weekly paycheck is getting depressing.  I don't think I ever thought about how poorly paid everyone in retail is.  Only the managers make a living wage, and I'm guessing that it's not a great salary either.  There are no holidays, and no holiday pay, at least for the part-time workers.  I only make about a dollar more than minimum wage, so the saying "at least you have a job" really gets under my skin.  Is it worth it to spend even four hours peddling something I can't afford?  I could be job hunting for something better during that time.  I feel really sorry for the people who work three of these kinds of jobs just to get by, especially because this is really a forgotten area of our economy.  We talk about how consumer confidence is up, but we don't really look at what cost to the worker.  I definitely appreciate anyone who is working part time in a low-wage job much more than I did before being that person myself.  The bright side for me is that I know that it won't last forever.  I am not stuck in this job.  It gives me what I need for now and I will move on when I have the chance.  I know there are many others for whom this is not the case.

Back to knitting.  I'm still following my no new yarn rule, but the last time I was able to buy yarn I bought for two projects.  I am trying to decide whether that's cheating or not.  Perhaps I'll make seven or ten things before the next purchase, to appease my self-imposed guilt.

Here are a couple of the latest FOs.

Made from leftovers from a cowl and some baby things.

More of the same leftovers, plus some other stash yarn.
Legwarmers for Sarah.  One of these days I'll mail them to her.  The pattern is Laced Legwarmers by Jenise Reid.
Speaking of Jenise, I won a copy of her new pattern book, Between the Trees!  It is beautiful.  I always joke that I'm not a winner, but this is the second thing I've won in the last six months (and about ten years, but who's counting?).